Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Today, a new book comes out from Boom! Studios called Mr. Stuffins, and I think it quite nicely demonstrates the differences between a comic book story and a film script. This is the exact sort of high concept story that, as a film, would be so dumbed down and ruined by “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome that it would probably be wretched. Holding it to just the creative team of the comic, though, the high concept was executed sharply enough to make this first issue enjoyable, if perhaps a bit on the cliched side. What IS the high concept? The story stars a computerized teddy bear (think Teddy Ruxpin) whose programming is switched with some sort of special government robot/cyborg/whatever soldier program – leading to a young boy’s teddy bear acting as a tough-as-nails government operative.
My problems with the story (written by Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes) mainly revolve around the seemingly cookie cutter cast of the comic (other than Mr. Stuffins, of course). There is something to be said for how the young boy at the heart of the story, Zachary Taylor (also, what the heck? They couldn’t come up with a different name than a former US President? How odd) shows a little personality in the beginning of the comic where he gets his dad to buy him a teddy bear while his father wants him to get a more “manly” toy. Otherwise, the divorce angle in the comic (Zach’s mother and father are separated, and his older sister is a bit…ahem…loose) just plain ol’ isn’t that interesting.
Luckily, Mr. Stuffins is a strong enough concept that Cosby and Stokes manage to milk a great deal of laughs out of the set-up.
OH! I almost forgot! I was also REALLY impressed with the beginning of the comic, which shows a scientist trying to hide the disc (which he does, in a teddy bear that the boy ends up buying). It was a strong opening to the book, giving a nice edge of suspense, while also showing some nice character moments (the scene where the scientist leaves a message for his wife was quite well done).
Lee Carter does a pretty good job on the artwork, but he has this one really weird art tic – he draws lines on people’s faces, which I presume are intended to be seen as shadows or just realistic looking angles – but they come off as, well, lines on the peoples’ faces – almost like scars! It is quite weird.
Otherwise, Carter does a very solid job on the book, although at times, Pablo Quiligotti’s colors are a bit too dark, and give the book a bit of a muddy looking feel. Perhaps that is not Quiligotti’s fault, it might very well just be a problem with how the book was printed, but either way, it’s a bit muddy-looking at times (a good example is the last page of the comic).
In any event, while I am sure most of you out there can imagine what kind of hilarity ensues when a young boy’s teddy bear “comes to life” and acts like Brock Samson from Venture Brothers, Cosby and Stokes do a fine job of handling the rather familiar hilarity.
This is well-written comic with solid artwork.
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